March 01, 2016

New Enforcement Policy Targets Individuals

Irma S. Russell, Isaac W. Straub, and Tracy Hayes

On September 9, 2015, the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) announced a new emphasis on prosecuting individuals connected with corporate violations. This policy is not directed at a particular area of law, and it does not focus on environmental laws per se. The prevalence of organizational actors in the environmental arena and the significant criminal sanctions imposed by environmental laws mean that this development deserves attention in the environmental context. Lawyers practicing in the areas of environmental, energy, and natural resource law should have a solid working knowledge of corporate governance as well as the substantive area of law. The significance of organizational entities to the U.S. economy and to environmental practice can hardly be overstated. In fact, the impact of corporations on the economy is one reason for the new policy. Every lawyer practicing in the environmental area will represent or deal with organizational entities, including corporations, limited liability companies, nonprofit organizations, and tribal entities. Accordingly, lawyers practicing in the areas of environment, energy, and resources should be aware of the new DOJ focus on pursuing individuals for corporate wrongdoing.

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